Thousands of protesters flooded back into Bahrain’s Pearl Square as the military withdrew Saturday. The withdrawal of the military from the streets was one of the protesters’ preconditions for negotiations, but it isn't clear whether it alone will be enough to begin talks. Ibrahim Sharif, head of an umbrella group of protest factions, said he wants guarantees that protesters won’t be attacked. The behavior of the riot police as the military withdrew isn’t convincing in that regard: They fired tear gas and beat and detained protesters as they entered the square. Violence has been escalating in Bahrain, with the death toll climbing to six on Friday when soldiers opened fire on protesters during a funeral march for someone killed earlier in the week. The increasing violence drew a harsher rebuke from President Obama, who said Friday that he "condemns the use of violence by governments against peaceful protesters,” and spoke with the king of Bahrain. But it’s unclear who exactly in Bahrain is responsible for the violent crackdown. While the king and his son are viewed as modernizers, the king’s uncle, the prime minister is in charge of security.
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